Bartenders Work the Bar
"I always call myself a bartender. I'm not in a lab mixing up spirits and syrups. I tend to think that the term "mixologist" refers more to the people who are always working on new cocktails to put on a bar's list. A bartender is someone who knows their spirits and cocktails but can also interact with their customers and make the bar feel like home. There are corporate mixologists that truly come up with cocktails for their brand in a more lab like setting, free of customers. When it comes down to it and you are at a bar I always recommend calling the person on the other side by their name. So much better than "barkeep", "Hey, you", a snap, or repeatedly hitting the bartop." —Hector Santa Cruz (Neat, Bow & Truss)
'Barricade technician' and 'Bittersmith'
"The term mixologist is hard because within the the industry—it's become a bit of a joke, always said with not just a touch of cynicism. But I need to remind myself regularly that when a guest says it, it's meant as a compliment. Ultimately, "mixology" is only a small part of what we do, and the term "bartender" successfully encompasses all of it, from the obvious mixing drinks and knowing about liquor, to knowledge of the food we make in our kitchen and how to serve you properly as a guest in our restaurants. I do, however, also like the terms "barricade technician" and "bittersmith"." —Dan Sabo (Five Leaves)
"I call myself a bartender. (I shudder to think what other people call me!) I do feel there is a need for a word for career bartenders. The term mixologist, in its purest sense, is meant to connote a beverage professional that is dedicated to the craft of bartending. Someone who understands the subtle nuances of mixing spirits, but is also quick with a joke and happy to pour a gin and tonic. Labels are labels. My opinion is I’m happy to call you by whatever term suits you. Just make sure that when you are behind the bar you’re focused on enhancing my experience first and foremost. You can make me the best cocktail in the world, but you have to have the full package. Leave the bitterness for cocktails, and keep a smile on your face and mine." — Laura Cullen (Clarke's)
Drinks, or Drinks For People?
"I consider myself a bartender. I do mixology, but the way I see it, a mixologist makes drinks while a bartender makes drinks for people. Realistically, you can call me anything you want, just don't call me late to supper." —Mike Ryan (Sable)
"I will always call myself a bartender/bar man. My opnion is these labels change with time and media. Whatever you want to call me, you can—except an asshole—and I will be more then happy to pour you a cocktail." — Chris Hudnall (The Blacksmith Saloon)
I'm Down With 'Mixologist'
"I used to hate the term mixologist... I thought there was something pretentious about it. But now I choose to go for it, mainly to differentiate from the traditional draught-pouring pub bartenders. Mixologists need to be a bit more chef-like." — Jeff "Chewy" Chouinard (Lincoln Ristorante)
A Little Wary
"I call myself a bartender. Granted, I currently work in a beer and wine only spot but I've never considered myself a mixologist. I don't have anything against the term, there are very talented people who are deserving of the title—I'm just wary of those who call themselves a mixologist." —James Romer (Wirtshaus)
Passion, Not Labels
"I feel like a mixologist in what I'm trying to do behind the bar with cocktails and being inventive with my craft. I'd say to people that I'm just a humble bartender from Hawaii. I'd like the guests to leave thinking that they had a great time and enjoyed my company. I feel that no matter what label you give yourself you have to have passion for your craft, and enjoy what it is you're doing... otherwise, why bother." —Billy "Bonefish" Fannemel (Couloir Restaurant, Jackson Hole Mountain Resort)
"Gimme a f'ing break. I'm a bartender. Mixologists work at TGI Fridays." —Molly Prather (Little Dom's)
Still A Bartender
"I call myself a bartender. That's what I started as, that's what I continue to do. If you look back to Jerry Thomas, he was doing some cutting-edge cocktails and making his own bitters at the turn of the century and he was a "bartender". We're doing the same thing now, but we just have access to more tools, ingredients and fresh produce now a days." —Brian Means (Fifth Floor)